The Quarterly Community eNewsletter of Bird Town Pennsylvania
Spring 2024
Welcome to “Bird Beat”
Welcome to “Bird Beat,” the quarterly eNewsletter of Bird Town Pennsylvania. Bird Beat is a seasonal communication (summer, fall, winter and spring) for individuals working to use native plants in their properties for the birds, pollinators, and other beneficial creatures that enhance the ecosystems in which we all live. Many of you have received one or more forms of habitat recognition or certification from Audubon, the National Wildlife Federation, or another organization. Bird Beat also includes family-friendly games, movie and book reviews, and fascinating information about birds.

Bird Beat offers timely tips for native plant enthusiasts like you, along with links to resources, events, and ideas to engage your families, friends, and neighbors with the wonders that your native gardens, from container gardening to full blown meadows, evoke. We hope you find Bird Beat informative and valuable. Please share this newsletter with any folks you think would like to subscribe to future editions. Note that you can unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. We invite your comments and suggestions for future topics at
Flying insects “bug” us when birding, but they are BIRD FOOD. 
By Karen Campbell

When you watch swallows flying over a field, what do you see? I see graceful birds performing amazing acrobatics in an empty sky! But they are actually feeding in a habitat filled with flying insects that aren’t visible to us. 

Click here to learn about the ecology of what's alive in different layers of air, along with profiles of some of the insects that birds eat on the wing.
Buds for Birds: Milkweeds
By Barbara Malt

Birds and butterflies go together! Many bird species require caterpillars to feed their babies. Those caterpillars often require specific types of leaves to eat. The caterpillars of monarch butterflies require milkweed plants. Without milkweeds, there will be no monarchs. 

That by itself is reason enough to plant milkweed. But the nectar of milkweed flowers is also attractive to many other insects, providing a bounty of food for insect-eating birds. Other types of butterflies and bees, moths, flies, and beetles are attracted to milkweed flowers. Click here to learn about the different types of milkweed you can plant in your garden.

Important Bird Area? What’s that?
By Christine M. Du Bois

It's an I.B.A. Hang around bird watchers awhile and you’ll hear sentences like, “Have you been to that IBA? It’s awesome!” and “Have you looked into IBAs to visit on your vacation?” Of course, IBA could stand for other things like “International Bar Association” or “Institute of Business Appraisers,” but if the speaker has binoculars around their neck, you can count on the meaning discussed here. The article highlights the six IBAs in Pennsylvania considered to have "global significance" for bird conservation (starred on the map), and there's info on many other IBAs all across the state as well.
Sense of Wonder: Night Flight
By Christine M. Du Bois 

Something massive and extraordinary, perilous and strange, is happening, now. It's one of the great spectacles of nature, and until recently it was invisible to us. It's happening high in the sky—in the dark, while we're sleeping—the passage of hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions, of birds over North America every night during spring and autumn migration. Now, thanks to new technologies, we can figure out where the birds go. But how do the birds themselves figure out where to go? How and why do they pull off long-distance journeys in the dark? Click here to find out!
Kids’ Corner: Important Bird Areas
By Christine M. Du Bois

Your bedroom is an Important Kid Area (I.K.A.). Birds have their own special places, too, and we have a word search for you with names of the super important places in Pennsylvania that we need to protect for birds. You can also print out coloring pages with birds from those special places. Click here for all the fun!
Click here to learn about B95 and two enchanting books.
Two Book Reviews about
Migrating Wonders: The Red Knots
By Heidi Shiver

Springtime wouldn't be complete without a trip to Cape May in hopes of spotting robin-sized and colored shorebirds called Red Knots as they forage intensely for horseshoe crab eggs. They're gathering much-needed food along their migration flight north in May. 

When I think of tales and books about the incredible journeys that Red Knots take during migration, the story about the over-20-year-old Red Knot known as B95 comes to mind. 
The Bird That Conquered Dementia
by Christine M. Du Bois

My Dad, George, is 90 and has moderate dementia. He can hold a good conversation for a few minutes, but once a topic changes, he doesn’t remember anything that was said before. You can have the same chat with him many times a day because he doesn’t remember that he already asked you what you’ve been up to, or what’s planned for dinner. But what he does remember is that a bird changed his life. Click here to read more about the joy of Dad's "spark bird."
In Memoriam: Flaco, New York's Favorite Owl
by Christine M. Du Bois

Flaco, a gorgeous, nearly 13-year-old Eurasian eagle-owl who was born in captivity and had never lived on his own, escaped from New York's Central Park Zoo on February 2, 2023 after someone cut a hole in the steel mesh of his enclosure. He quickly became a favorite of Manhattanites, who marveled at his adaptability in suddenly being able to feed himself and find places to roost. People reported sightings of him on social media, crowds gathered wherever he was spotted, and a New York Times reporter penned multiple stories about him. Several attempts by his keepers to lure him into a cage so they could bring him back to the zoo were unsuccessful.

Sadly, Flaco died on February 23, 2024, a bit over a year after his escape. A necropsy revealed that he perished from the blunt force trauma of crashing into a window, and that a virus and high levels of rat poison in his body surely also had weakened him.

Click here or here to read about the dangers that did Flaco in. For what we can do to protect wild birds from Flaco's fate, check out this article and this one.

Flaco liked to peek into people's windows, to much delight.

By Christine M. Du Bois

Migratory birds are superheroes of travel! May 11 is a special day to watch and admire them—and learn about how to help them survive. This year, the World Migratory Bird Day's theme is "Protect Insects, Protect Birds," since insects are seriously in decline worldwide, and many, many species of birds are utterly dependent on insects as food. Click here to learn about this global, awareness-raising celebration.
Looking Ahead!

  • Watch for our Summer edition of “Bird Beat” in June, featuring articles on how a successful summer helps birds get ready for all the challenges of autumn.

  • Encourage others to sign-up to receive “Bird Beat,” our eNewsletter.

Do you live in the Lehigh Valley? Click here to find out about the Lehigh Valley Bird Town Coalition's rewarding activities!
EDITOR'S NOTE: We welcome suggestions and content for the Bird Town Bird Beat. Submissions can be sent to for consideration. Note that submissions will be accorded full consideration but do not ensure inclusion in the newsletter.

President: Heidi Shiver
Vice President: Phil Witmer
Secretary: Janet Krevenas
Treasurer: Tom Price
Board Member: Steve Saffier
Board Member: Lauren Diamond
Board Member: Jim Bonner
Liaison to PAAC: Leigh Altadonna

Bird Town's Bird Beat e-newsletter editorial team
Christine M. Du Bois, layout
Karen Campbell, blog publisher
Leigh Altadonna, editor emeritus and consultant
Christine M. Du Bois, editor
Credits for images can be found here.